Catherine Huber (1703-1798)
Lebenslauf of the widowed Sister Catharine Huber, who blessedly passed
away in Bethlehem on January 29, 1798, set down by her daughter, Sister
Catharine Huber born Budmenski was born November 18, 1703, in Seitendorff, Moravia, and was the only daughter of her dear parents, whose excellent love and care she enjoyed, and was also urged to learn very young. Her mother promised her that as soon as she learned to read, she would give her a pretty book, which would be for her alone to use. This created in her such a desire to learn that soon she could read quickly and proficiently. Then her mother had to keep her promise to give her a beautiful book, (which was a Bible that the mother always kept hidden, because it could not be noticed by the father, as he believed that they were all as good Catholics as he). She always tried, when he was not at home, to put the book to use, and her Mother always looked for such places that were the most impressive to her. She soon received such a taste for it that she wanted to read almost no other book. This was a secret from her father and brother, as she normally spent all idle hours reading. Yet, he became mistrustful towards her mother and reproached her: She would become a heretic with her daughter. He seldom allowed her to remain at home when he went to the church, (which time she often used to read in the Bible); and always took her alongat least he never left the two of them alone. The mother often cried and said, 'Ah! If only I knew a little corner in the desert, where I could bring about the salvation of my soul without constraints on the conscience. Oh! Child," she sometimes said 'If I were as free as you are, I would wander through the world, seeking out true children of God." Often she fell on her knees and prayed with many tears to God to enlighten her and her daughter, and to send someone to them who would teach them the way to everlasting life. This made such an impression on her [Catharine's] heart, that she had no peace, day or night. But she could not let this be noticed by her father, because he was bitterly against people leaving their fatherland, and called those that came into the land lure people seducers, and there was no lack of threats, should someone from his family have the gall to take such a step. The mother tried to soften him as well as she could, the more that she was convinced of the earnestness and longing of her daughter, the more she tried to sooth the father and support the daughter; she brought it to the point that he became more favorably inclined towards them, and no longer kept them under such strict supervision. She then used this freedom, and got more acquainted with such people who were in similar circumstances, and prayed ardently to God that He would help her out of the dark land; and thus she passed her youth in constant longing and hope; until in the twenty-first year, when she came to the resolution to leave everything, and seek out children of God. No one could come with her, because her father's strictness was well known to people. She revealed her plans to her mother, who responded to her: 'Say nothing to me, I can neither help you nor advise you; when your father misses you, I will get to enjoy it[.] But do what you think, if your soul is to be saved, then I can not and do not desire to hinder you, should it cost me my life." She waited, then, for the feast of All Saints. She made as if she wanted to go to Mass, and set out on her way on November 1, 1725, without saying a word to her mother, and with firm trust in God, that He would stay by her. It was a bright day, when she left; as she came to a high mountain, she looked on the village one last time, and she saw the people coming out of the church. Then fear took hold of her that her father would come after her violently; she fell to her knees, prayed and cried all the more to the Dear God to help her out of this terror. She stood up and hurried as best she could. In an hour, the sky became overcast, and soon after it snowed so hard that one could only see a few steps ahead. She received strength and traveled the whole night and the following day, until she finally came to Niederwiese, where the people received her very kindly. After they had learned the reason for her journey, they directed her to Master Schwedler. He looked at her very sharply and said, 'What ever made you do it, to leave your parents and friends so young?" She answered, 'I am looking for a people, where I can became certain of the salvation of my soul, without religious constraint. That prompted me to risk everything," and she told him then her whole story. To this he answered, 'If that is your true reason, then you will succeed in it, and told her how poor and miserably she would have to nourish herself in Herrnhut. She replied, she would notice nothing, if she could only find rest for her soul. With that, he gave her a writ of recommendation to the blessed Count von Zinzendorf, and said, 'God be with you."
She came next to Herrnhut, and was lovingly taken in, and not long after was married to her first husband, Friedrich Riedel. Her father did not rest, until he found her out, and sent her brother along with a few other men to bring her back. When they saw, however, that all efforts were for naught, they left again, and left them alone. But her dear mother had much to endure, [Catharine] had her brother relay to [her mother], that if she could make it possible, she should come to her, that she had found such people as they had wished; after several months, she had the joy of seeing her mother arrive in Herrnhut; not long after which she blessedly passed away. My dear mother had to survive in the most extreme misery, but she often said, 'Such a peace of God surrounded me, that nothing became difficult for me, rather was a blessing to me among these dear people. The duty of sick-watcher was assigned to me, and the Savior helped me especially mercifully, even in the most difficult times that sometimes came to pass, when it sometimes seemed that the little village would be destroyed again, as is known in the history of the Brethren." On the so blessed August 13, 1727, when the Dear Savior showered the Gemeine in Berthelsdorf with such a powerful mercy, she went for the first time to the Holy Abendmahl. She could never remember this time without gratitude. In 1735, she received a call to go to Georgia, which her dear husband departed for with the first Brethren. She followed him first the next year. She had a difficult trip of twenty-one weeks, but when she arrived in Georgia, her dear husband had already gone home [passed away]; the two children from this marriage both died in Herrnhut. She was transported into a state of widowhood. After some time, she was married to Br. Peter Rose, with whom she moved among the Creek Indians in an Indian city, to take on them and their children. In the beginning, they made a good start; they had some difficult trials, but they also experienced the evident help of the Savior. To mention only once: when the school was over, her husband often traveled on the Savannah [River] to the city, and it sometimes happened that he stayed out overnight. She was thus totally alone in their house among the savage, drunken people, and they raged around the house so that she was often truly in mortal danger. She pleaded to the Savior for help; soon there came an old Indian, who always stayed in the house and could speak English. He called to her to open the door. At first, she did not know whether she dared to trust him, in the end she risked it, however, and opened the door. Then, he came to her and guarded her, which he afterwards always did, when she was alone or in danger, so that she looked on him as her guardian angel.
She lived a couple years there, until the war's disturbances began, and one part of the Brethren traveled to Europe, the other to Pennsylvania. She then moved with her husband to Germantown, where he blessedly passed away in March 1740. This marriage was blessed with three daughters, of whom one went home in Georgia and another was married to Br. Bader in Jamaica and when home there. She lived a couple more years in Germantown with two small children. Then the blessed Count Zinzendorf came to the land. He found her, comforted and encouraged her, as she had become nearly despondent. When she remembered that time, she always attributed to the indescribable faith of the Savior that He had kept her with His people. When the Gemeine in Bethlehem was founded, she was there with her children, and was afterwards sealed as Gemein Elder by the blessed Jünger, and soon after she was bound by him in holy marriage with Br. Johan Michael Huber. They then served with one another in various ways and means, in sometimes in Nazareth and sometimes in Bethlehem, now as Pfleger, now as Vorsteher, and also as leaders of the children, until her husband received a call to go on a visitation to the West Indian islands, through which she was transferred into widowhood a third time. No one could ever learn anything about the ship on which he departed. This marriage was blessed with two children.
A few years later, she moved to Nazareth as Vorsteherin of the Widows-Choir, and had particular oversight of the children's schools that were there at that time. She preformed this service for several years, as well as the particular care of the sick. Because they had no doctor in the place, she had to treat the sick with medicines, except in dangerous cases, when they had the doctor come from Bethlehem. She often explained, when she thought back, 'that the Savior had helped her through wonderfully, and that she had truly sometimes experienced his help visibly." She was finally relieved [of her duties] by Brother and Sister Graff from Europe, and received a call to Bethlehem as Vorsteherin and Helferin of the Widows Choir (the former she performed for many years with the blessed Br. Mattheus Schropp with unfailing faithfulness). A part of the Widows Choir moved in a few years to Nazareth, She, however, stayed in Bethlehem in her duties; she had great support from Brother and Sister Spangenberg, because they particularly took on the care of her dear widows, which lay on her heart. After Gnadenhütten was burned and the war's unrest came again, she was relieved from her duties as Vorsteher by Brother and Sister Martin Mack, and then moved again to Nazareth as Choir Helfer and Vorsteher of the Widows. After the blessed Sister Werwig came from Europe, the Choir Helfer duties were given to her. [Catharine] remained active where she could, until her dear Widows Choir moved into its new Choir House in Bethlehem, where she was again very busy. She then moved to Nazareth again, and remained in her former duties for several more years, until she was called to Bethlehem once again and had to take over the midwifery duties here. Here she spent her time most happily, in hopes that her Sabbath Day now approached. She showed herself yet willing, however, to server where one needed her help. In the year 1772, she traveled for several months to Philadelphia, and had the pleasure of seeing and caring for her first little grandchild. Several years later, she moved to Hope where her son was. There she had a hard sickness to endure; when she was better, she longed deeply to move back to Bethlehem again. The dear Br. Ettwein visited her in her sickness, and was a help to her, for which she could never thank him enough. She devoted her heart to the Gemeine and Choir meetings as long as her strength allowed, and took great interest in all occurrences in all the Gemeine, and particularly in her children and grandchildren (these latter gave her much pleasure and joy). She recently explained to a friend, 'I have held every position in the Gemeine, from the greatest to the smallest, nothing was too great to me, nothing too small; what help it was to me, when I didn't know, and learned that I had found that ground, where my anchor would forever hold. I have not longed for anything, neither for good days nor for honor, rather my constant attention was to live for my Redeemer, and to serve Him, wherever occasion was found." Now my constant plea and entreaty answered, to be at home by the Lord. She tearfully longed for this, particularly in the last years, and could not image anything more comfortable than that she should suddenly go home in the night.
In the last year, she had much to endure from a bad leg, and great weakness, so that she could hardly go out any more. She retained her active spirit, however, until the 21st of this [month], when it was as if she met with a blow. She laid on the bed, and looked forward to midday when she would see her son and grandchild, and from then on she laid completely still, and took no more notice. One could not see that she had to endure great pain. Some home-going liturgies were held by her bed, by which a very blessed feeling could be felt; on January 29th, she passed away very gently and blessedly, under the blessing of the Gemeine and her choir, in the 95th year of her life.
She had seven children, five of whom preceded her into eternity, that is, one son and four daughters. One son and one daughter are still living, from whom she lived to see seven grandchildren, of which five are still living, and all are with the Gemeine.
Transcription & translation by Katherine E. Carté.